Date of Award

2000

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

School

School of Education

Program

Higher Education Administration PhD

First Advisor

Hinsdale Bernard

Second Advisor

Lenore S. Brantley

Third Advisor

Elvin S. Gabriel

Abstract

Problem. Faith in God is a phenomenon that is difficult to define. Yet, it can be seen as an attitude of complete trust in God. As Proctor (1995) stated, faith in God is believing that there is a purpose and a power (called God) available to each of us, giving us an "inexhaustible source of evergreen inspiration" (p. xvii). Therefore, this study focused on how faith in God impacted administrative decision-making practices of three African-American Christian women administrators of higher education.

Method. To achieve the purpose of this study, the literature was reviewed to identify existing theories. This descriptive multiple case study approach examined the impact of religious faith on the decision-making practices of three African-American Christian women administrators of higher education. Case study techniques used were interviews, observations, note-taking, reviewing existent documents, etc. to gain an understanding ofwhat the observed world was actually like. Different kinds of questions and analyses, derived from Spradley's (1979) developmental research sequence, were also used to enhance themethod of analyzing and interpreting the data.

Findings and conclusions. Throughout this study, numerous attributes or values such as love, honesty, peace, joy, hope, intuition, etc. were engendered by faith in God. These attributes reflected anthropological, psychological, and sociological factors, thereby suggesting three theoretical models (to help understand faith-informed decisions): Fowler's stages of faith, Erikson's theory of human development; and the biblical model (Heb 11 and 1 Cor 13).

According to the findings, it was the practice of the three Christian administrators in this study to ask God for help when making decisions, particularly administrative decisions. Because of their experiences, stories, and viewpoints, it was evident that their profession of faith in God was practiced overtly. The study revealed that religious faith was used as a practical approach to problem solving, conflict resolution, and decision-making practices in the lives of these administrators. Finally, the study showed that faith in God has given these Christian women strength of character to make faith-informed administrative decisions, which is the ability to use the qualities of the spiritual life intermingled with expertise and gifts from God for the good of the organization.

Subject Area

Women--Religious life, Women executives, Women--Education (Higher)--United States

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